Ode to a New Delhi median

Dave sez, "I'm an American who writes about life in New Delhi. I recently posted an essay about the story of a humble concrete median near my house — and how the insignificant pressures of daily use, multiplied by the millions of people who used it, reduced it to rubble. It's a synecdochic symbol for the larger infrastructure challenges faced by countries like India, where they can't get ahead because they're constantly struggling to maintain what they already have. "

Don't blame the bicyclists. They don't mean to. But it's been a long day at work and an even longer ride home, and these old bikes are heavy; they're trying their best to lift their bikes up and over the median, but every so often they catch one of their metal pedals or drag the teeth of their gears. Which nicks the cement.

It's nothing! A grain of sand! The median is still good as new!

Except the path has been tramped down, so this is where people think to cross. So one bicyclist is followed by another. Nicks coagulate into notches. Notches coalesce into ruts. Ruts amalgamate into grooves wide enough to roll bicycle wheels through. And while the grooves are made wider and deeper, the material being ejected from them is collecting into a little pile of rubble. That gets bigger. And as the groove is graduating into a fissure, so too is the pile moving towards becoming a ramp. Just the kind of ramp that a motorcyclist can utilize.

death of a median, part I: an ode to Aurobindo Marg

(Thanks, Dave!)